‘I’m A Believer’ in Shrek: The Musical on DVD!

A couple of days ago I talked about the importance of bringing musicals to the cinema screen. What if we went even further and brought them to the television screen?


While not common, showing musicals on television isn’t breaking any new ground. The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables have been recorded in special concert versions. A performance of Love Never Dies was recorded (probably for posterity as its future looked rather uncertain). And even Legally Blonde paired up with MTV which broadcast the entire show several times throughout the respectable 18-month run.

On Tuesday, there was a new addition to this elite club of recorded musicals on Tuesday with Shrek: The Musical releasing a professionally shot production from the original Broadway run on DVD.

I am sure there are plenty of musical theatre traditionalists out there covering their ears and singing at the top of their lungs to try and drown out these unconventional approaches, but personally, I love them! It is the way of the future and they aren’t really a substitute for seeing a live show.

I just booked tickets to Les Misérables during its return Melbourne season. Was I aware that there were two professionally recorded concert versions? Yes. Did I know how much I would save if I just watched a DVD? Acutely. But did it even cross my mind that buying the DVD would be a suitable substitute for seeing the show live? Not at all!

Watching the DVD is akin to listening to a cast recording. It doesn’t decrease your likelihood of returning but it can constantly remind audience members how wonderful the live performance was, and as a result, get them to buy some more tickets.

Now of course the Legally Blonde approach of broadcasting the performance while it is still running is very risky because people may be sufficiently happy with the broadcast. But for some reason it worked very well and prolonged the run of the show because more people wanted to see it live. However, the Broadway production of Shrek: The Musical closed on January 3, 2010. And it is safe to say that almost four years later, releasing the DVD is probably not going to damage Broadway sales.

The show is still touring the UK and launching productions around the world, but if an audience member was incredibly desperate not to pay for the full production they could probably piece it together on YouTube anyway. Compared to these shonky videos on YouTube, the new DVD is a breath of fresh air with multiple camera angles, high quality sound and a lack of quickly hiding the camera during the important part of the song when the usher wanders by the recorder’s row. But this is actually a beneficial quality for the show.

Remember that old saying ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right’? Well it applies to advertising. There isn’t any point refining the show if the main information search platform (YouTube) is only going to show dodgy recordings which devalue the show. The professional recording shows off the musical in its best light – making it a high quality advertisement for the production emphasising the high quality experience audience members will receive at the performance.

And even if this DVD did deter a family from seeing Shrek: The Musical, chances are they will go and see the next Dreamworks musical as the alternative is waiting four years for it to come out on DVD!